14 Nov 2016

Mini Reviews 13/11/2016

We may not have time to review every book on our pull-lists but we do aim to provide a snapshot of what's been released over the past week, encompassing the good, the bad, and those that lie somewhere in between.

Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Jesus Saiz
Marvel $3.99

Matt C: This is more like it. Now Civil War II is out of the way we can back to business, and with a bit more momentum now a crossover event doesn’t have to be worked into the narrative. The flashbacks are interspersed with the contemporary storyline without any disruption in the overall flow and we get more monologuing and rhetoric from the Red Skull, which now has worrying relevance considering the events of the past week. It’s the best issue since the first, and as long as it doesn’t get distracted by any other goings on in the Marvel Universe then this series could regain the impact it had initially and really deliver on the great premise. 8/10

Writer: Geoffrey Thorne
Art: Khary Randolph, Emilio Lopez & Andres Mossa
Marvel $3.99

Stewart R: I felt the first issue of Mosaic started promisingly enough with a protagonist who wasn't instantly agreeable and a powerset that offered plenty of potential for development. Having reached the final page of this second chapter I'm still finding Morris Sackett to be a rather arrogant, flat, uninteresting character who inhabits really interesting individuals who then quickly disappear out of view once Morris' poor choices force them away from the story. I understand that Thorne is trying to have Sackett deal with new abilities he doesn't fully comprehend and may well bring some of the fleeting cast back later. I also imagine that Morris could grow as a person through this slow process, but having him come off negatively in comparison to those he briefly inhabits is making for a jarring journey so far. There are admittedly signs of a deeper plot coming into view with Sackett Snr bringing in less than wholesome security and evidence of Morris' friends possibly 'doing the dirty' behind his back. These soap opera suggestions however, don't convince me that I want to stick it out to see where the threads may eventually lead. Mosaic could be one to watch in trade as a whole, but I'm not going to be picking up the individual pieces. 5/10

Writer: Greg Rucka
Art: Nicola Scott & Romulo Fajardo Jr
DC $2.99

Matt C: The ‘Year One’ storyline continues to be the highlight of ‘Rebirth’, a retelling that feels magical, mythic and meaningful, making Diana both a larger-than-life character but also a flesh-and-blood hero, carrying an innate sense of wonder that she inevitably brings out in others.  Scott’s art continues to be beautiful and emotive and capable of giving a sense of kineticism and movement through a succession of expertly choreographed panels.  We’ve been here before but we’ve never been here quite like this. 8/10

Writers: Donny Cates & Eliot Rahal
Art: Geoff Shaw
Heavy Metal $3.50

Stewart R: And it all comes to a close here. I've loved the world that these creators have dived into with comedic verve and a decent eye for drama, a wide and varied cast that will give everyone a different favourite and a the chance of a chuckle every page. At the climax here we're provided with a bumper effort - the $3.50 cover price gets you 35 pages of story! - that hurriedly tries to gather all of the threads together and offer closure to the hard work that's been put in before now. I will admit, things do unfortunately feel a touch rushed as truths are revealed about Driver, the mysterious Mr Pierce finally reveals himself and the Paybacks just try to survive the ensuing chaos in one piece. There's a definite increase in pace compared to the rest of the volume which jars a touch and even the Paybacks are confused as to why Driver is fighting Highguard and I remain similarly perplexed on the issue at its conclusion. In and amongst it all though can be found the familiar quips, the nods in the 'Big Two's direction and Bloodpouch's determined stance to make sure Zoe doesn't fall to the mistakes and hate of her past. There's a brilliant panel from Shaw that highlights his faith in friendship and it tugged right on a heartstring of this reader. And that's what The Paybacks, even in this slightly clumsy closer, has had in spades - heart. Cates, Rahal and Shaw have clearly loved what they've brought to this series, love the medium and enjoy playing with the associated tropes. I'm very thankful that they got to see out two volumes of The Paybacks, even if I wished they'd had a longer run, and it's a series I predict I'll be back to revisit in the future. And I'll never forget the brilliantly named Panteradactyl either! 7/10

Writer: Warren Ellis
Artists: Phil Hester & Mark Englert
Aftershock Comics $3.99

James R: We have said before that Warren Ellis' books are almost as predictable in their content as they are erratic in their release schedule, but Shipwreck shows that the predictability is forgivable when the content is so good. Jonathan Shipwright continues his pursuit of the mysterious Isham in a land which could be an alternate dimension or Shipwright's own personal Hell. This time he meets Bank, an expert in Tibetan sky burials, and Valeska Halter, a woman who knows a lot about Shipwright's plight and introduces him to an ominous bell. A lot of Ellis' books have conversations at their core which are really Ellis monologues in disguise. I can understand if people would begin to find that tiresome, but I always find Ellis' prose so stimulating and sharp that I can't help but come back for more. Phil Hester  has been consistently brilliant for years and seeing him adapt his style slightly on these pages is a treat. Two issues in and I'm enjoying Shipwreck - I'm hoping it will buck the fate of Karnak, Trees and Injection and stick to a regular release. 8/10

Writer: Max Landis
Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cliff Rathburn & Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Image $2.99

Matt C: In the back pages, artist Camuncoli echoes what Landis said in the first issue, that we the readers have no idea where this is all headed. That’s somewhat reassuring but I have to say at this stage it’s not really straying outside the realms of the familiar. That’s not to say it’s not any good; on the contrary, it’s very nicely done with some lively dialogue and very handsome illustration, but it hasn’t gone anywhere we haven’t visited before in other, similar tales. I still have hope the suggestions that this will transform into something unexpected will turn out to be true, but even though it’ll be a disappointment if it doesn’t, this is still pretty entertaining, clich├ęs and all. 7/10

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